UVM to skate on frozen Fenway Park

With less than a week to recover from that New Year’s hangover, students and fans of college hockey will shuffle into Fenway Park for the second annual Frozen Fenway.

With Boston-area teams competing in last years event, this year, Hockey East will see its four nationally ranked teams — one from each Division I New England state university — take the ice on America’s most beloved ballpark. UVM will battle the UMass Minutemen in an afternoon matchup starting at 4 p.m. on Jan. 7. UNH will face off against UMaine in the nightcap starting at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets went on sale last month and they’re going quick. Keep in mind that tickets are good for both games. So not only can UVM students cheer on their Catamounts, but they can root against their UNH rivals too.

In any case, this is a huge opportunity not only for fans, but for the players as well. Head coach Kevin Sneddon commented about the chance to play at Fenway, saying, “As a coach, you are always seeking new and exciting experiences for your team; events that they will remember for the rest of their lives. Frozen Fenway will be a game that none of us will soon forget. We are very honored to be a part of this game.” Not only will it be a memorable experience playing at Fenway and even being a fan in the stands, but it will also provide national attention that can only serve to boost these young athletes’ careers.

Being the second year of this event, Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertagna is excited about the attention that it is receiving. “We thought from the start that pairing the four Division I state universities would draw interest and it has. As we start October, close to 35,000 tickets are off the system so, in effect, it is a sellout. One of the things I expect to see is alumni who don’t often get to Burlington or Orono or Amherst or Durham on a typical Friday or Saturday night. This may be their one game of the year.”

UVM and UMass in particular date back quite a while. They played together in the 70’s when both were still Division II teams before they both moved up a division. Commissioner Bertagna recounts that, “When I was playing college hockey in the early 1970’s, UMass and Vermont battled for ECAC titles… Some of those games were epic.” Sneddon seems to cherish the relationship the two teams have, referring to UMass as an “excellent program with a great staff.” He embraces the fact that, “We’ve continued a tradition to this day, as we play each other the Tuesday prior to Thanksgiving every year.”

UMass head coach Don Cahoon said in a statement to The Cynic, “We are looking forward to our opening game a week from tonight. Clearly, when January rolls around Frozen Fenway will be extremely exciting. Hopefully we bring our best game and compete at a high level vs. Vermont.”

Although UVM kind of jumped the shark last season, there’s no doubt that both of these teams are capable of competing at the highest level. They are both tabbed to finish in the middle of the pack of arguably the best college hockey league in the nation.

So go out and buy your tickets before they run out — you might as well support some team at Fenway now that the Sox are out of the question. As Coach Sneddon says, “Our Vermont fans will be well represented at this event, and we certainly appreciate their effort in heading to Fenway to cheer on the Catamounts!”